BAPE – A Bathing Ape sold into commercial slavery?


I’m a long standing BAPE fan. The coat, the trainers, the imagery. I get it, I wear it, I like it. But the brand has failed in it’s ambition.

A Bathing Ape were the hot Japanese streetwear brand of the 1990’s and early 2000’s. But failed to move on over the last 5 years.


They started with premium Street Inspiration, but the products have become increasingly comprimised in their perceived Aspiration and Range Distribution. The difficulty for luxury brands in the streetwear space is the need for maintaining momentum behind changing Aspirational Innovation, rather than simple repetition around a few well chosen themes. While Range Distribution needs to allow the customer to buy what they want, in their size and colour.

BAPE were famous for an ever changing product range with strictly limited editions. The problem wth this model is that the right size, or preferred colour or style simply aren’t regularly in stock for the shopper frequently enough in the few locations you can buy from. Strictly limited supply means you can’t get what you want when you want.

The challenge may be to maintain brand authenticity and integrity as distribution and pricing are reviewed; as the new owning company wishes to reduce costs and increase volumes.

Chungaiz has posted an interesting take on the BAPE story: Here

And BALLERSTATUS reports: Here

A summary of the BALLERSTATUS and WSJ reports are that Hong Kong-based I.T Ltd., a clothing manufacturer, have purchased roughy 90% of Nowhere Co., the Japanese operator of BAPE, for a reported 230 million yen (or $2.8 million at current exchange rates) from founder Tomoaki Nagao, the Creative Director and Japanese DJ an music producer known a Nigo.

The acquisition price sounds low, but Nowhere Co., the owning group behind BAPE, are in financial trouble.

The Nowhere Group reported losses for the year ending August 2010, of 119 million yen. While this is an improvement over a loss of 267.4 million yen for the previous year. Nowhere Group still had liabilities totaling 1.03 billion yen in 2010.
I.T will also guarantee Nowhere Group’s outstanding loans of 2.6 billion yen.

I.T. believe the acquisition will open internatinoal marets for them. Nigo will stay on as Creative Director at BAPE for 2 years as part of the deal.


3 Responses to “BAPE – A Bathing Ape sold into commercial slavery?”

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